I’ve been called – some would say accused of being – a hippie. No no, I thoroughly enjoy my creature comforts and only venture outdoors in limited amounts, but I do believe in eating seasonally, and locally wherever possible. After all, it’s not just the philosophy of it all, but I do find that the deliciousness of your produce greatly increases when you follow those few guidelines.
So when I heard that Stanley Street Merchants was going to open, I just had to make a booking.
Stanley Street Merchants is the brainchild of Matt Stone, young chef extraordinaire and champion of sustainable eating, Bobby Carey, spirit expert, Jez Spencer, of West Winds Gin, and Duncan Maccance, head chef. They’re all about showcasing locally harvested ingredients – and we’re not talking just Australian grown, we’re talking foods found within the state.
They are also crowd funded through IconPark, a kickstarter concept applied to restaurants, which co-founder Paul Schell has described as taking the power of deciding what restaurants get to open their doors away from the banks, and giving it back to the people.
We chose the Chef’s Choice menu ($85 pp), made our booking, and eagerly headed towards Stanley Street.
Even with the first step, you can see that the whole restaurant is buzzing. It’s got a really trendy vibe to it, and the service staff were extremely friendly, if not a touch overwhelmed.
We didn’t really know what we were getting – there was a sample menu when we booked but, because of the locality of the food, we also knew that it was subject to change. The downside to this was that it was really hard to get all the information down – there’s no menu to refer to, and the waitresses were shouting the description over the buzz of the bar, making it hard to truly explain what we were eating. We also were told that we were getting 5 courses, and then had 6, which made me extra confused, not that I’m complaining!
Unfortunately, as a result of the general confusion, I can’t give you my usual blow-by-blow account of the meal, but I can say that the staff were friendly, and the food was decent, but not particularly mind-blowing. The Crickets were a highlight for me – they were fried to a crisp and dusted with a NSW 7-spice mix, apparently inspired by Chinese 5-spice. It was a good portion – it was much richer than say, potato chips, and so couldn’t be in much larger amounts. The Kale Granita with White Chocolate Mousse was also a pleasant surprise – the combination really made a fantastically balanced dessert.
Overall, it’s something that we support more because we like the philosophy than particularly because we like the food. Don’t get me wrong, it’s really enjoyable, but there was no particular memory that made us want to go back before their run at Stanley Street finishes (if it does!).
Stanley Street Merchants
02 7901 0396
78 Stanley St
Darlinghurst, NSW 2010